Ethiopia’s blockchain deal is a watershed moment — for the technology, and for Africa – The Conversation CA

Ethiopia’s blockchain deal is a watershed moment — for the technology, and for Africa – The Conversation CA

At the launch of bitcoin in 2009 the size of the potential of the underlying technology, the blockchain, was not fully appreciated.

What has not been fully exploited is the unique features of blockchain technology that can improve the lives of people and businesses. These include the fact that it is an open source software. This makes its source code legally and freely available to end-users who can use it to create new products and services. Another significant feature is that it is decentralised, democratising the operation of the services built on it. Control of the services built on the blockchain isn’t in the hands of an individual or a single entity but involves all those connected to the network.

In addition, it enables peer to peer interaction between those connected to the network. This is key as it enables parties to transact directly without using intermediaries or third parties. Finally, it has inbuilt security. Data stored on it is immutable and cannot be changed easily. New data can be added only after it is verified by everyone in the network.

Unfortunately, bitcoin, the project that introduced blockchain technology, has hogged the limelight, diverting attention from the technology’s underlying potential benefits.

Bitcoin has been embroiled in massive controversies, attracting a host of criticisms. These include the fact that it’s speculative and volatile, and that it doesn’t provide any utility. Its price is driven largely by what investors think of it rather than any intrinsic value. This is unlike other
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